Showmax’s latest show, Agu, is a limited legal drama series in which the scrupulousness of law clashes with the mysticism of supernatural beliefs. Merging the existence of modernity with the age-old practice of witchcraft, the show portrays a society that is itself eclectic and indecisive, not completely severed from its traditional past and yet obstinately in tune with contemporary structures and realities as dictated by acquired Western values.
Against the backdrop of the conflict between tradition and modernity, Agu dives into a dramatic court case that materializes in the wake of Jonathan Anyanwu’s murder. The case brings together three key characters: counsel to the defendant, Etim Inyang (Kanayo O. Kanayo), a washed-up lawyer who seeks to reclaim his past glory; the defendant Pius Iheanacho (Nonso Odogwu), a believer in tradition and close friend to the deceased; and Victoria (Ruby Okezie), an ambitious prosecutor who seeks to get the deceased justice. While their paths cross in official circumstances, their personal lives intersect. Etim has an alcohol addiction and a past that gnaws at him, including his estranged and unforgiving daughter, Victoria, whom he coincidentally has to battle in court. Victoria’s emotional baggage—the sudden reappearance of a deadbeat dad and an unethical romance with a boss (Mofe Duncan)—stands in the way of her commitment to the court case even though she holds damaging secrets about her legal rival and father. Pius, who is on trial for the death of Jonathan, claims to have killed his friend in self defence. But then, the initial suspicion with which he regards his attorney Etim, and his belief in juju makes him suspect.
While the unyielding belief of Africans in her traditional expressions of spirituality holds sway in Agu, the series shows just how this belief can influence the affairs of modern state institutions like law and justice. Legal systems are known to uphold evidence-based, rational meaning, which puts them at loggerheads with superstitious, seemingly obtuse impressions of the supernatural. Most references to supernatural belief exist as anecdotal accounts and hearsay, which are normally untenable and inadmissible in law courts. There’s an indication of this when, outside the Anyanwu family residence, Victoria encounters men who give oral accounts of how the late Jonathan spiritually attacked and killed people that confronted him.
Symbols and objects like charms, amulets, spells, blood, calabash, and weird-looking artworks often associated with tradition can be used to induce fear of the supernatural in their target so as to obstruct justice. This is evident in the series when a repeated pattern of mystical experiences gets Etim worked up. He discovers a hideous calabash with a rotting goat head in his home, and then finds another object placed under his table, both of which he initially dismisses before attributing them to witchcraft. Even hallucinations, such as the strange voice that constantly calls Etim, are often perceived to be supernatural influences. But the law believes such conditions only have logical, medical explanations; and persons suffering from hallucination will not be considered medically fit to pursue a case in the law court.
The Showmax series also raises questions on the place of morality in relation to supernatural belief and justice. When Etim confronts Mrs Iheanacho about using charms, she claims to have done so for a benevolent purpose rather than a malignant one. How does one justify the patronage of supernatural mediums to obtain legal favor? Is it morally right or wrong to seek supernatural intervention in matters of litigation? From observation, in a society like ours, you will be tolerated if your spirituality lies in your practice of any of the contemporary Abrahamic faiths, such as Christianity and Islam. But you are likely to be treated with suspicion for seeking solace in traditional religion.
Enlightening and thought-provoking, Agu keys into African traditional sensibilities and the legal community. For the legal world, it opens up conversations around the viability and admissibility of myth, superstition and other claims to supersensible manifestations. The series stars Mofe Duncan, Tina Mba, Ireti Doyle, Linda Ejiofor, Ego Nwosu, Vine Olugu and ex-Big Brother Titans Housemate, Miracle.
Whether you are a lover of supernatural dramas, a huge fan of justice-themed shows or someone in search of fresh perspective, Agu is a must-watch as it is part of Showmax’s mission of creating relatable local content for the Nigerian audience. The series began streaming on Showmax on December 14, 2023, with a new episode released every Thursday. Get on the Showmax app now to binge-watch the show.
Here’s the trailer.